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I agree with Jeff. If you look at it structurally or contextually, the blues and honkyoku may not have much to do with each other but feeling wise, for some of us, the share some territory. The bending tones and minor scales are similar. I know the first time I consciously heard Honkyoku(Yokoyama's Shike no Tone) by the end of the first phrase I realized I was hearing something that was expressing a part of me that the blues tried to reach and didn't.
Jeff Cairns wrote:
I would totally agree with you about blues being emotional and rhythmical, but I wasn't referring to that level of 'blues'. I was referring to the voice, the mind and the heart. And I would suggest also that honkyoku does have rhythm and emotion. It doesn't necessarily pendulate like modern blues, but starts and stops in a more organic way with rhythm that we don't so much hang off of as flow with. And the emotional part I've been speaking of. Jdanza - you said that your first impression of the sound of the shakuhachi was 'the sound of the soul longing to return home'. I think it's more like the soul longing to stop the journey and home seems like a hell of a lot better place to be than here...blues.
Well, I look forward to hearing your playing, Jeff! I love the Blues, and the Shakuhachi can certainly get the juice out of that scale and feel, but the Honkyoku to me seems to be and come from a totally different place. The Blues gives me this kind of "raunchy" feeling whereby I'm sharing in the collective unconscious of the experience of pain at this level, and there's certain relief in that sharing and in creating music from that place. Honkyouku is much more attuned to the rhythm of breath when you are in an Alpha brainwave state, and in fact can trigger or cause that state (at least for me). I don't think listening to or playing Blues could ever do that for me (but the beauty is that we are all different... there's no wrong or right) In that sense I could say that the Blues is a beautiful way to "complain" about "this place", whereas the Shakuhachi, if only for a moment, actually takes me "Home"
Rick Riekert wrote:
If that’s true Pepe, then your girlfriend should probably be telling her students that the shakuhachi is not “the sound of meditation” but potentially one of indefinitely many sounds of meditation. And I’d be very careful about projecting the qualities of a teddy bear onto an oncoming 18 wheeler in the hopes of getting a cuddle. Inherent qualities may be an illusion but they’re a very persistent illusion.
You are right, Rick, to say the sound of the Shakuhachi is anything in particular is also "projecting", but as I was saying before, the "rhythms" of Honkyouku are so closely attuned to the breath that they can help the mind slow down and achieve the Alpha state. When I was referring to meditation with objects I was talking about the sense of sight and how the mind interprets. The sense of hearing is a totally different ballpark.
If meditating on an oncoming 18 wheeler and turning it into a teddy bear does it for you... be my guest. The Matrix is a pretty crazy place
De gustibus non est disputandum
I was speaking more in terms of mood than any technical identity, although if I'm not mistaken if you throw in one meri (tsu-meri I think) to the basic shakuhachi scale you can play just about any blues melody in the history of blues melodies. I think one of the first melodies I managed to sqwack out on bamboo was some tortured variation of "St. James Infirmary."
For the record, pre-electric rural blues across the board has a far wider breadth of emotional tone and structural variations than most post-electric blues, especially once the urban Chicago thing became the dominant force, then everything became more or less identical, at least compared to the structural differences and different expression of mood between say, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, and Blind Willie Johnson. The differences between later electric/urban players such as BB, Albert, and Freddy King, Otis Rush, and even T-Bone Walker are microscopic in comparison.
Last edited by ABRAXAS (2010-10-27 14:48:30)
Similar to how some non-music expression resonates with Honkyoku. Tarkovsky's films are a good example.
I want to read what Robert Burton, Schopenhauer, or Emil Cioran would have written about Honkyoku music.
Very early European music, such as the Epitaph of Seikilos or the suriving chorus stasimon of Euripides Oresta, is definitely along a similar mood of tragic melencholy, at least to my ear.
Also, hasn't it been argued that some honkyoku is chant-based? A lot of medieval plainchant/plainsong melodies would sound interesting on a shakuhachi.